The alleged “chief planner” of the Asiagate football match-fixing scam, former Zifa chief executive officer (CEO) Henrietta Rushwaya, says her hands are clean and those responsible for the corrupt dealings should face the music.
Rushwaya spoke to NewsDay Sport yesterday following the release of the Asiagate report by a Zifa investigating committee chaired by Ndumiso Gumede and comprising Elliot Kasu, Benedict Moyo and Fungai Chihuri as members.
Part of the committee’s report which implicates Rushwaya, among others, reads: “The former chief executive officer of Zifa (Ms) Henrietta Rushwaya, the former programmes officer Jonathan Musavengana and the Fifa match agent Kudzi Shaba are implicated in the arranging of these games and benefited financially, amounts that the committee could not establish.
“A Zifa junior staffer Harry Taruva was also used by the CEO. The CEO received huge payouts because if for each game match agents paid between $30 000-$50 000, then you look at the number that we played (15 matches at least).”
But Rushwaya yesterday said: “Culprits must be brought to book and that will be good for Zimbabwean football.
“I was not getting invitations from betting syndicates, no . . . I was getting them from colleagues in the football associations and some came through the (Zifa) president (Wellington Nyatanga), who could not run the association on a day-to-day basis.
“If the Malaysia FA (Football Association) was cleared on those issues, what are we talking about here?
“If people are saying some of these things happened during halftime, how could that have been possible since I am female? Could I have gone to their dressing rooms? To be honest, let those that are responsible face the music.
“If there is anyone who can stand before an open court and testify to say that I did what they say I did, let them come out and speak. What is here is hearsay and Rushwaya is being implicated by that . . . no . . . no.
“Match-fixing is a complex issue and it cannot be based on assumption, but tangible evidence. I want to see the evidence, the indications where they are coming from that I was the chief culprit.
“If people are speculating over things that did not happen, then there will be lawsuits after lawsuits. People cannot just be tarnishing other people’s images.
“It’s unfortunate that some innocent people have been tarnished. They need to be cleared so that they can move on with their lives. Some people have failed to move on with their lives since July last year (when the first Asiagate report was released).
“The sooner it ends, the better for all of us,” she said.
Her lawyer Selby Hwacha said Rushwaya had had enough of the Asiagate accusations mainly because the allegations had been made in the Press and the committee had not even called her for an interview.
“All these allegations are being made in the Press. The committee should be brave enough and call her to testify in a court of law, prove the allegations or shut up forever. Otherwise my instructions from her are to sue these people for damages,” he said.
Former Under-20 coach Methembe Ndlovu, now Zifa board member, had told the interviewing panel that he was pressurised by Rushwaya to undertake a trip to China in 2007 with the Under-23 team, where the hosts attempted to smuggle a coach into the Zimbabwe technical bench.
The investigating committee further wrote: “We found that the former CEO had a propensity to instil fear in her subordinates and those she dealt with through cunning aways of name-dropping in her conversations.
“Accordingly she assumed a position of invincibility as she was held as a person with ‘connections’ and who could make life unbearable if the person did not play along (with her) whims. Players in particular were afraid to cross her path and amazingly board members also felt intimidated by her.”
Former Zifa vice-president Tendai Madzorera said Nyatanga — whom he accused of giving Rushwaya preferential treatment — could not take any action because he was sitting on a “bomb”.
“The CEO told us in a meeting that the Zifa president could not fire her or do anything to her because he knew what bomb he was standing on. The president was under the tightest of screws by the CEO,” Madzorera told the committee.